Host Bob Schieffer led Sunday's Face the Nation by fretting over opposition to the passage of ObamaCare: "What about the violence in the wake of the congressional action? Isolated incidents or signs of a dangerous anger?" He told viewers that he would talk to "Republican firebrands, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint and Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann" about the issue.
Schieffer pressed DeMint on some of the threats against members of Congress: "Senator, we saw some pretty scary stuff last week....We saw members' offices that were trashed. We saw death threats....Do you think the parties have an obligation to try to tone down some of this runaway rhetoric? Is it, in fact, dangerous?" The Senator defended tea party protestors: "I've been with hundreds of thousands of tea party patriots...and I've never seen any violence or heard any bad language....it's unfair and untrue to try to paint this whole American awakening with some of the bad comments that we heard last week in Washington."
Later turning to Bachmann, Schieffer tried to portray the Congresswoman as extreme: "You said last week that health care reform was dangerous and you equated it with tyranny. Do you really mean that?...You said that you thought Barack Obama had anti-American views....what do you mean the President is anti-American?" He continued his interrogation by pointing to comments made by Sarah Palin: "[She] famously said last week that it is not time for Republicans to retreat. It is time to reload....said she wasn't talking about guns. She was talking about getting out there and using the vote. Do you think Sarah Palin has overstated it here?"
Last night, Bill O'Reilly used recent instances of inflamed, occasionally violent liberal protests to give his viewers a lesson in Media Bias 101. Lefties dominate the mainstream press, and are reluctant to cover events that don't suit their agendas, he stated.
O'Reilly showed a number of clips of just the latest instances of leftist political outrage (video and transcript below the fold). He concluded that "One side gets scrutinized. The other side gets a pass. Awful." Indeed, while it seems one can hardly pick up a newspaper or turn on the television without hearing about the horrible, violent racists in the Tea Party movement, there has been relatively little coverage of the left's violence and vitriol.
Betcha didn't know this: The Tea Party movement's growth was fueled by unemployed people lying around looking for something to do, and will have a hard time sustaining itself if/when the economy improves. Oh, and they're so distressed about the country's circumstances that they're letting emotion trump facts in their advocacy.
Those are the themes of Kate Zernike's Saturday New York Times report with the snarky title ("With No Jobs, Plenty of Time for Tea Party") that was carried on the front page of Sunday's print edition. Really. This is the same Kate Zernike (pictured at top right) who saw racism where none existed at CPAC in February, and who Andrew Breitbart memorably called "a despicable human being." Seems about right.
Zernike's piece attempted to support its pathetic premises and implications as a result of discussions with three -- count 'em -- individuals. One of them is in her mid-60s and collecting Social Security, hardly the archetype of a disaffected unemployed person. Comically, the Times reporter characterized Dick Armey's FreedomWorks a "Tea Party group," even though it was founded in 1984, a quarter-century before Rick Santelli's memorable tea-party rant last year.
For one example, go back to 1995 during the welfare-reform debate. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who is now embroiled in a controversy as to whether a Tea Party protester hurled a racial epithet at him, employed the use of his own Nazi invective. (h/t MRC Director of Media Analysis Tim Graham)
"Read the Republican contract," Lewis said on the House floor on March 21, 1995. "They're coming for our children. They're coming for the poor. They're coming for the sick, the elderly and the disabled." Lewis's comment paraphrased a famous passage by Rev. Martin Niemöller, who was in the resistance against the Nazis.
Since the passage of ObamaCare on March 21, the liberal media have been working hard to crack down on dissidents, painting the tea party movement, talk radio, and Republicans as dangerous radicals inciting violence against Democrats.
The three broadcast networks and the cable channels all jumped on board the bandwagon of smearing conservatives as angry hate-mongers, in order to discredit broad-based legitimate opposition to the unpopular legislation.
After devoting several stories to unsubstantiated allegations of racism and spitting by Tea Party protesters last weekend, the New York Times almost ignored an actual death threat made against a top Republican, Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 Republican in the House, that resulted in the first actual arrest since the alleged wave of threats against politicians began.
Norman Leboon of Philadelphia was ordered held without bail pending a mental health evaluation after trying to post a video threatening Cantor onto the clip-sharing site Youtube.
The Times made do with a one-paragraph Associated Press brief buried in the National Briefing section on page 18, with an uninformative headline: "Philadelphia: Man Held in Threat on Congressman." (The Times also ran a four-paragraph story on the paper's "Caucus" blog Monday afternoon.)
By contrast, the Washington Post's Anita Kumar devoted a comprehensive story to the incident in Tuesday's paper, including details not included in the Times's AP dispatch, like the most threatening quote from Leboon's video: "You receive my bullets in your office, remember they will be placed in your heads. You and your children are Lucifer's abominations." The Post also reported that Leboon donated $505 to Obama's presidential campaign.
Williams made this preposterous claim during a panel discussion with the Weekly Standard's Mary Katharine Ham 25 minutes into the 8 pm Eastern hour. O'Reilly asked the NPR analyst about a point made by Fox News's Brit Hume in an earlier segment, that there's double-standard in the mainstream media in the amount of coverage of extremist imagery and language found at tea party rallies has been given versus equivalent imagery and language used at left-wing protests (a point raised by the MRC's Rich Noyes in an August 2009 Media Reality Check): "There's no doubt that the media will seize upon any kind of misbehavior on the right...Whereas if it happens on the left, it will, as Mary Katharine [Ham] said, be de-emphasized or ignored entirely. So that's a corrupt media system, isn't it?"
The guest raised the militia issue at the end of his answer:
WILLIAMS: I think we're out of context here. If we're talking about- you know, somebody going after Ronald Reagan- you know, one guy who's in love with Jodie Foster, okay- if we're talking about that. You know, people who have a lot of hatred- hateful attitudes towards President Bush, and then somebody who is extremist on the fringe, yes. And if that was also to be then the case with the tea party, yes, that's too much and unfair. But, when you start to see militia groups start to associate with the tea party, when you see the flag-
In the 10AM ET hour on MSNBC on Tuesday, anchor David Shuster talked with Democratic strategist Craig Varoga, founder of the Patriot Majority political action committee, about efforts to "fight against tea-party-backed candidates." Moments later, a headline on screen read: "Tea Party Targets; PAC Launching Counter-Attack of Tea Party."
During the same hour on Monday, Shuster described how in a speech on Sunday, "[Sarah] Palin also took aim at Democrats in the media after she was criticized for posting a map of targeted House Democrats with using rifle cross-hairs." An on-screen graphic showed a picture of the map featured on Palin's website with the headline,"Sarah Palin's Dem Hit List," suggesting Palin was inciting violence against members of Congress.
Meanwhile, during the Tuesday segment with Varoga, the word "target" was used frequently. The headline "Tea Party Targets" remained on screen throughout the segment, as several secondary headlines appeared next to it, including: "Group Targeting Tea Party-Backed Candidates," "PAC Targeting 12 to 15 Conservative Races," "PAC's Mission: To Ensure Congress Tea Party-Free," and "PAC: Americans Need to Confront Tea Party." At one point, Shuster himself used the word: "What are the specific races, specific campaigns that you're going to be targeting?"
MSNBC's Chris Matthews today jumped on a statistic regarding Census participation in Texas to argue that anti-government sentiment from TEA Parties is hurting the Lone Star State in the decennial head count and hence could shortchange the state in congressional reapportionment and redistricting:
CHRIS MATTHEWS, "Hardball" host: Time for the "Big Number" tonight. It speaks to the unintended effects of sowing distrust about the federal government. Thirty-four percent of Americans nationwide have filled out and returned their U.S. Census forms. But what's the number like in Texas, one of the more conservative states out there? According to the Houston Chronicle, just 27 percent. Well below the national average...
The Weather Underground and the Tea Party movement: Same thing?
In the wake of Obama-care's passage, New York Times reporter Benedict Carey took the country's political temperature, and found it running a right-wing fever, in a front-page Sunday Week in Review essay. It's ominous title was cribbed from the famous scene in the movie "Network," "RAGE's DNA: Mad As Hell. And..." The online headline is even blunter: "When Does Political Anger Turn to Violence?"
The story is accompanied by a photo illustration of an open book of matches, one of them lit.
There's also a really strange choice of photo caption on the jump page: an archive photo, courtesy of Getty Images, of the late-1960s left-wing domestic terrorist group The Weathermen, including Obama friend Bill Ayers, directly above a similar picture of marching Tea Party protesters from last Sunday. Here's the caption, which suggested that while the two movements are not the same they share some DNA:
VARYING DEGREES OF RAGE The Weathermen, including Bill Ayers, second from right, during the Days of Rage in 1969, and anti-health reform protesters in Washington on Sunday.
On Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked political analyst and writer for the left-leaning blog Slate.com, John Dickerson, if Democrats were "worried" about the "ton of momentum" behind the tea party movement. Dickerson replied: "What Democrats can only hope for is that tea party activists somehow overreach and that that ends up becoming a stain on the Republican Party."
Rodriguez agreed and touted Democratic Party talking points on ObamaCare: "Right. And also, if you ask the Obama administration, they'll tell you maybe people will see the few health care changes that are taking effect immediately and actually like them and it'll turn the tide of public opinion."
"That certainly is the hope," Dickerson replied, but then lamented: "The polling right now does not give the Obama administration a lot of encouragement on that front." He explained that the American public was simply afraid of change: "The problem is that people are nervous about change and this is an enormous change in their lives....people really just don't believe it yet."
Editor's Note: The following is a letter from a NewsBusters reader that we decided to share with our readers by publishing in its entirety. The views expressed are those of Mr. McCormick, who was in attendance at the Saturday, March 20 protest rally outside the U. S. Capitol
Dear Mr. Bozell:
Everyone keeps saying it's not important if one or two bad apples used the N-word at the Tea Party protest in Washington. Well, I was in the crowd that allegedly was "chanting" the N-word, and I want to tell you there were no bad apples there that day. The congressmen are lying. If people had been chanting the N-word, I would have heard it. It seems the only people who heard it were the Democratic congressmen.
Monday's Washington Post continues the "ugly" health-care protest theme by somehow making a national story out of a protest "which never included more than three people at a time" outside the home of freshman Rep. Steve Driehaus in west Cincinnati. That's on A-3.
The Post said the poor Democrat found "angry protesters wouldn't allow him a full escape from the raw and vitriolic discussions that have embroiled the health-care debate for more than a year."
In the Metro section, the Post took days to acknowledge that the GOP headquarters in Charlottesville, Virginia discovered two bricks thrown through its "very thick" double-pane glass windows on Friday morning. That's in the bottom left-hand corner of B-6.
Perhaps tuning in to NBC's "The Chris Matthews Show" isn't high on your list of priorities, outside of wanting the chance to catch Dan Rather suggest something bizarre like President Barack Obama couldn't sell watermelons. However, if you had watched the March 28 broadcast of the program, you would have found the show's roster of panelists think the Tea Party movement is a black mark on the Republican Party, as far as it pertains to unseating the Democratic majority in Congress.
Matthews' show featured NBC Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell, Newsweek's senior Washington correspondent Howard Fineman, CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger and Atlantic senior editor Andrew Sullivan. In the aftermath of the passage of ObamaCare into law, some have suggested this was a defeat for the Tea Party movement. Matthews asked if the mere existence of this movement was a plus or minus for the Republican Party.
"OK, all things considered, if there were no Tea Party crowd, we never saw them demonstrate - would that be better for the Republican Party, or is the Tea Party a plus for them in November, winning elections?" Matthews asked.
If the media outlets are going to report on tea party events, they're not likely to get any benefit of the doubt much of the time.
Case in point - at the Tea Party Express event on March 27 in Searchlight, Nev., which former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin spoke, CNN's Fredricka Whitfield wasn't quite prepared to give the rally credit it was due as far as participation. She estimated that hundreds, but if not, "at least dozens of people" were in attendance. (h/t fstaff with assist from Mark Finkelstein)
"Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin there in Searchlight, Nev., was the backyard of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but today it's the backdrop of this Tea Party Express - making a stop here," Whitfield said. "Hundreds of people, at least dozens of people - we haven't gotten a count of how many people turned out there. We heard Sarah Palin talk about everything about the campaign, to unseat Sen. Reid to what she calls ObamaCare, on the heels of that health care vote and even talking about her definition of her love of America."
However, as MSNBC "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski suggested, discretion should be exercised with the amount of attention given to these radical components of the opposition to President Barack Obama's health care reform endeavors.
"Yeah, call it out but also I think we have to be careful along the way," Brzezinski said on the March 26 broadcast. "I think this happened during the campaign. I think this happened during the final hours of the health care debate where certain fringe, really minute members of it were highlighted."
Republicans are escalating political violence against Democrats by not shutting up with their insipid anti-ObamaCare talking points. That seems to be the argument of Time magazine writer Alex Altman, at least.
Of course, that headline presupposes that the isolated incidents of violence on record are part of an actual campaign of intimidation, a charge that Altman failed to substantiate with any evidence of conspiracy or collusion on the part of elected Republican officials and/or TEA Party leaders.
But that aside, Altman’s complaint seems to be with Republican legislators continuing to voice their dissent regarding the newly enacted health care legislation:
Not content with simply reporting on threats against lawmakers who voted for ObamaCare, the liberal media has taken it upon itself (with a bit of direction from the Democratic Party) to blame the Tea Party and the GOP.
The coverage stands in stark contrast to the litany of similar instances involving conservatives and Republicans. They were treated as isolated incidents, if discussed at all.
CNN's Rick Sanchez certainly got the memo. On his show yesterday, he accused "crazy talk show hosts" and the Republican Party of inciting violence against lawmakers who voted for ObamaCare. He took to Twitter later that night to ask, "are our fundamentalist zealots different than the ones we fight in afghan and iraq?"
On Thursday's American Morning, CNN's John Roberts repeatedly decried the "troubling language" against pro-ObamaCare congressman which "violate any sense of common decency." But his own program over three years earlier helped promote a controversial 2006 movie which forwarded an imaginary assassination attempt against then-President George W. Bush.
Just after the top of the 6 am Eastern hour, Roberts responded to a report by correspondent Carol Costello on ten Democratic representatives' request for extra security after their reportedly received threatening messages: "Wow. It really is, as you said, at the top, it is troubling, some of the language out there."
An hour later, at the top of 7 am Eastern hour, the anchor expanded on his earlier thought as he introduced a report from correspondent Brianna Keilar: "The message from emotional voters to Capitol Hill this morning could not be clearer: 'Go to hell.' From profanity-laden voicemails to faxes with Nazi insignias on them, thousands of Americans are venting their anger, in some cases, extremely inappropriately. The shouting is not bound to the Beltway. At least ten members of Congress with home districts stretching all the way from New York to Arizona have reported either harassment, vandalism, or outright death threats."
At the top of Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez proclaimed: "The health care debate gets ugly as Democrats who voted for reform report violence and death threats." In a report that followed, correspondent Nancy Cordes promoted left-wing talking points blaming the GOP: "Democrats accuse Republicans of stoking the anger with violent rhetoric and imagery."
As one example of the threats against Democrats, Cordes played phone messages left for Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak: "You and your family are scum....We think you're a devil....I hope you die." However, the Early Show failed to mention any of the threatening phone calls made to Stupak last week, by liberals upset over the pro-life Democrat still being on the fence over the abortion language in ObamaCare. As NewsBusters' Tim Graham pointed out, CBS's own Political Hotsheet blog reported: "Stupak...says his life has become a 'living hell' because of the debate....'All the phones are unplugged at our house – tired of the obscene calls and threats,' Stupak said in an interview with The Hill."
Citing more examples, Cordes noted that Democrats "point to Sarah Palin's Facebook page, which uses cross hairs to denote districts where vulnerable Democrats voted for health care reform. 'Don't retreat, instead, reload,' Palin told fellow conservatives on Twitter." In addition, a picture of the Republican National Committee website appeared on screen, which featured an image of Nancy Pelosi surrounded by flames and the words 'Fire Pelosi'. On Tuesday, Rodriguez asked RNC Chair Michael Steele if such imagery was "a little bit extreme."
Good Morning America on Thursday worried about the possible violence Sarah Palin's Twitter page could cause to Democrats who voted for the health care bill. Guest host Bill Weir interviewed Barney Frank and fretted, "Some on the left have also been pointing to Sarah Palin's Twitter message encouraging her followers to 'Do not retreat. Instead, reload.'"
He ominously explained to viewers, "And her Facebook page has a map with cross-hairs on 20 Democrats who voted for the bill." Reporter Pierre Thomas also rehashed Democratic fears that"a toxic political environment is a catalyst for ugliness."
He touted complaints by Democratic Congressman Steve Driehaus that Republican Minority Leader John Boehner said he would be a political "dead man" if he voted for the bill. Thomas intoned, "The fears that all this angry talk could push a deranged person over the edge."
In the lead story of Thursday's National section, New York Times congressional correspondent (and Times Watch favorite) Carl Hulse quickly put the Times's stamp of approval on Democrat attempts to discredit anti-Obama-care protesters as violent racists in “After Health Vote, Democrats Are Threatened With Violence.” He even drug Internet images from the RNC and Sarah Palin into the mix. By contrast, the Times was conspicuously quiet during the 2004 presidential campaign concerning vandalism of G.O.P. campaign offices.
Hulse detailed the Democratic message of the week -- violent conservative protesters -- with no hint of how the party is exploiting the anecdotes of violence (some of which have not been documented). Interestingly, he includes Rep. Bart Stupak on the list as having “reported receiving threatening phone calls,” though Hulse fails to say whether they transpired before or after Stupak caved in and voted in favor of the health “reform” legislation.
Democratic lawmakers have received death threats and been the victims of vandalism because of their votes in favor of the health care bill, lawmakers and law enforcement officials said Wednesday, as the Congressional debate over the issue headed toward a bitter and divisive conclusion.
Sounding more like MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann than impartial newscasts, ABC, CBS and NBC all led Wednesday night by legitimizing Democratic talking points meant to discredit critics of the just-passed health care bill. “Opposition to health care turns menacing,” ABC’s Diane Sawyer warned. CBS teased with audio clips -- “Baby-murdering scumbag,”“You are a dirtbag” and “I hope you die” -- as fill-in anchor Maggie Rodriguez cited “threats of violence against Democrats who voted for health care reform, even as public support for the plan is growing.”
On NBC, Brian Williams teased: “It's getting ugly as anger over health care reform erupts into some over-the-top rhetoric, including threats now against members of Congress.” He opened by declaring: “It can now be said that the debate over health care reform has gone too far. It's now veered into threats of violence.” Reporter Kelly O’Donnell relayed how “Democrats accuse Republicans of stirring a hostile mood” before Savannah Guthrie rued “Washington's epic 14-month battle over health care has exposed an angry side of America.” She recounted:
Wrapped around the brick that smashed the door of Democratic party headquarters in Rochester, New York, a note with the Barry Goldwater quote: ‘Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.’ On Twitter, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin told followers, ‘Don't retreat, reload.’ While an Alabama man advocated armed uprising....At a conservative Tea Party protest at the Capitol this weekend, some demonstrators hurled racially and sexually-charged insults at members of the Congress.
CBS’s Nancy Cordes dutifully reported “Democrats accuse their GOP colleagues of inciting such acts with inflammatory rhetoric” as “Democrats complain Sarah Palin is also using violent words and imagery. On Twitter, she urges conservatives: ‘Don't retreat. Instead, reload.’ And the Web site of her political action committee posts bull's-eyes on districts of vulnerable Democrats.”
CNN's Rick Sanchez repeatedly insinuated on his Rick's List program on Wednesday that Republican leaders and "crazy talk show hosts that are so right wing" were to blame for ten congressman requesting extra security earlier in the day: "Are some Republicans culpable of stirring this, to a certain degree?"
Sanchez led the 3 pm Eastern hour of his program with House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announcing that ten of their Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives had requested additional security for their homes and offices due to reported threats of violence. The anchor brought on correspondent Jessica Yellin to give more details. After Yellin reported that House Minority Leader John Boehner had condemned such threats, Sanchez replied, "But Boehner himself has been one of the most critical. He's one of those who has used words like 'socialist' and 'government takeover' and the kinds of things that someone who, maybe, doesn't follow the situation so closely might be led to act in an incivil way. Is this is a chicken or an egg question, of which came first in this case?"
The crescendo of bigotry by the left-wing media against the Tea Party movement reached a disgusting pinnacle yesterday with MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann indicting the entire movement as being homophobic racists based on the actions of a few fringe protestors.
The media coverage from other networks - particularly ABC and CBS - the past few days has followed suit, attributing to the millions of Americans who fiercely oppose ObamaCare the disgraceful outbursts of a few.
In response, Media Research Center President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell issued the following statement today:
Racists against Obama-care? New York Times congressional reporter Carl Hulse didn't take it quite that far, but he made a point to juxtapose protests against Obama-care to violent 1960s-era protests against black civil rights, as personalized in the main subject of Hulse's Monday piece, civil rights icon and Democratic Congressman John Lewis: "Mr. Lewis said he was not intimidated as he walked to the Capitol with his colleagues, including Ms. Pelosi. In 1965, Mr. Lewis was bloodied and beaten by the police as he marched for civil rights."
Hulse first laid into "venomous" conservative protesters on Sunday afternoon, in his contribution to the live blogging of the House debate at nytimes.com. From his 3:25 p.m. post "Angry, Vituperative Protests."
The mood inside the House chamber was tense as lawmakers headed toward climactic health care votes on Sunday, but the atmosphere outside the Capitol was downright venomous.
As the House engaged in initial parliamentary maneuvering, hundreds of anti-reform protesters gathered on the south side of the Capitol between the building and the House office buildings across Independence Avenue, chanting and jeering Democrats and applauding House Republicans who egged them on.
Is The Washington Post playing favorites with causes that inspire people to exercise their First Amendment rights and take to the streets to protest? When it comes to opposition to Democratic efforts to reform health care versus opposition to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it appears so.
In a March 20 Washington Post story headlined "Obama delivers plea to 'help us fix this system,'" Ben Pershing, Paul Kane and Lori Montgomery suggested House Democrats were gaining momentum in their pursuit of the 216 votes needed to pass health care reform legislation, despite "hundreds" of "tea party" protesters rallying outside the U.S. Capitol. (h/t Amanda Carpenter)
"Outside the Capitol, hundreds of 'tea party' protesters rallied against the legislation, jeering Democratic lawmakers as they passed and holding signs reading 'We'll Remember in November' and 'Revolution,' Pershing, Kane and Montgomery wrote.
[Update, 10:21 am Eastern on Monday: Knoller responded on Sunday on Twitter to the criticism he was receiving online, stating that 'I wasn't aware there was any slur or pejorative associated with that term. The moment it was pointed out, I stopped using it." (H/t: Clay Waters of TimesWatch, Stephen Gutowski of NewsBusters).]
CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller revived the use of a vulgar sexual term to refer to Tea Party protesters on Saturday afternoon via Twitter: "Obama's motorcade arrives at Capitol Hill. Boos and jeers passing tea bagger protests."
As the Media Research Center's latest Media Reality Check details, over the past year, the media have served as cheerleaders for ObamaCare, praising the proposed legislation, while continually slamming its critics.
As Congress moves closer to a final vote on the bill in the coming days, it's a good time to take a look back at the friendly spin that has dominated the airwaves in support of it, as well as the harsh attacks that have been launched against its opponents.
Here is a video compilation with just a sampling of some of the slanted coverage from the past 12 months.